Like many I suppose, the craziness of the world around me at this moment in time, makes me value the escape Bob Ross gave me — the escape to “my world”. The true Joy of Painting®.
“I think each of us, sometime in our life, has wanted to paint a picture.”Bob Ross
In my sports media class this week at Ball State, I again shared the creative wisdom of Duncan Wardle. I was fortunate enough to not only meet Wardle in 2021, but to learn from him in a creativity workshop the next day.
As founder of ID8 and former Head of Innovation and Creativity at The Walt Disney Company, Wardle is a renowned expert in developing innovative, magical brands, engaging stories and creative experiences that drive results.
Wardle oozes creativity and inspiration, and what better place to innovate than Disney? I encourage reading his blogs and articles.
Among his seven behaviors to unleash creativity, two particularly resonated with me — and my students — this week.
Give Yourself Time To Think
I often hear my Ball State students say they’re too busy to even think some days.
It’s true, who hasn’t felt that way? I know I do. But, the key is to recognize when you are saying it, and facilitate a change. Most CEOs consider time to be the number one barrier to innovation. As Wardles encourages, give yourself some breathing space!
I think Bob knew this all too well. “Go outside. Talk to a tree. Study nature. Look at a cloud.” Sure, it can make you a better painter, but it’s about giving yourself time to think. Time to be creative. Time to disconnect.
Add Freshness To Your Daily Life
Are you a creature of habit and routine? I won’t lie, the older I get, the more my routine matters (or at least I notice I have one). However, if you do the same thing over and over, you get the same thing over and over.
True with painting, too. Try that seascape, use liquid clear more, black gesso away my friends!
As Wardle states, no new stimulus in, no new ideas out. So, try injecting some freshness into your daily life to spur creativity. Break your routine once in awhile. Listen to a different radio station. Take a different route to work. Select a new dish from your favorite restaurant.
Peace And Love
Painting — and sharing it with others — is my way of adding freshness to my life. Which leads me back to “my world” and this longing for peace and love. I also recalled a story of World War II leader and peacemaker, Winston Churchill. His wisdom seems needed today.
After WWII, in May of 1915, he resigned from his government post and became an officer in the army. Deflated of power and consumed with anxiety, he took up an unexpected new hobby: painting.
“Painting came to my rescue in a most trying time,” Churchill wrote in the 1920s, in essays later published as a book, Painting as a Pastime.
Painting, for the great British statesman, was a source of delight and a respite from the stress of his career. He created over 550 paintings, crediting the practice with helping him to hone his visual acuity, powers of observation, and memory. The pastime would flourish, and perhaps even aid him, as he furthered his career as a world-renowned writer, orator, and political leader.
At the age of 40, Churchill first picked up a brush at the suggestion of his sister-in-law, Lady Gwendoline Bertie, who was also a painter. In Painting as a Pastime, he recalled his first artmaking attempt one day in the countryside.
Intimidated by the blank canvas before him, he diffidently placed a pale blue dab of paint on its surface to begin the sky, and was soon interrupted by the arrival of Glasgow painter Sir John Lavery and his wife, Hazel. The latter exclaimed, “Painting! But what are you hesitating about?” She grabbed a brush and made “large, fierce strokes and slashes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvas.”
With that, Churchill wrote, “I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with Berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since.”
Ahh, I wonder if it was 2-inch brush?
In the five decades to follow, Churchill became a prolific painter, primarily focusing on landscapes and seascapes. And despite his incessant claims he was merely an amateur, he developed an admirable flair for the art.
It’s Never Too Late
Churchill knew it. Bob knew it. Why? They gave themselves time to think.
As Bob wrote in his “Brush Strokes” publication in 1995, “it’s never too late to make your dreams come true, no matter what others have told you or what you’ve heard or read in the media. Maybe we think that new experiences and discoveries are something for babies and children, not adults.”
“Pursuing a dream is not reserved for the young. It is available to absolutely anyone having the desire, no matter what their age is.”Bob Ross
#ROSSology: Déjà Vu & Goosebumps
A new series I’m calling ROSSology — a way for me to share my joy of painting with you, Bob stories, tips, etc.
#ROSSology: Think Like A Tree
I’ve carried the Bobisms throughout my life. Many are catalysts of inspiration, while also a sense of stabilization when life gets crazy.